I wasn’t happy when mum told me ‘no we can’t move to Canary Wharf because it’s not made for living, it’s for working.’ Bearing in mind, this was when I was like 6! Anyway, so I thought, if I can’t live there, then one day, I will work there.
I went college from September 2004 but too many problems came my way so I had to leave, which was at the end of November 2004.
I was stuck. Didn’t know what to do with my life.
Everyone else who left school or college either went straight to work in Mc’deez or on the dole. I used to get up every morning pretending to my mum that I was still going college. Every evening, I went home with a load of papers I picked up from the local connexions office to make it look like it was college stuff. Mum would’ve had a fit if I told her I can’t go back to college!
I used to chill out in front of college with all the other bums. We used to trot down West End to hand out CVs to retailers (most of them use to chuck it in the bin the second we left) and popping in to Trocadero for a few games of Time Crisis or Outrun2!
I then told myself that I don’t want to be working in a dead-end job up west end or go on the dole, so I started looking very carefully to see what’s out there.
I saw this add for an apprenticeship with the Tower Hamlets Council in the local newspaper, EastEnd Life and was lucky to be accepted on to the 15 months course. I told my mum and she was ‘alright’ with it, as she’s got this old school mentality and wanted me to go out and become a doctor or something!! I was so excited to work in an office.
The council was always supporting me but one key thing they did was made me realise my potential to go further in improving my skills and knowledge.
I soon became aware of the problems that a typical Eastender has, like high levels of unemployment, low income, health, housing and crime as well as living in one of the highest population densities in London, Tower Hamlets.
The thing is, when I was young I felt as if everyone is living alright with little problems. Never in my life have I heard of so many problems in my community: most of the issues are hidden except for crime I think. But this made me feel like I got to do something to help the people I serve and live amongst.
My commitment for diversity and inclusion was always strong but I had little resources to do anything about it, until the best thing ever in my career happened. I had the opportunity to work for LOCOG on a secondment basis in the Diversity and Inclusion team working on workforce recruitment, focusing on Tower Hamlets. Now that’s what you call magical!